By Jonathon Momsen
Sebastian Vettel has upset championship leader Lewis Hamilton to win the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. In doing so, the German has won Ferrari its first Grand Prix in 34 races.
A decision on just the sixth lap of the race to stay out proved the difference as Vettel completed the 56 lap race pitting only twice compared to Mercedes’ three stops.
“We beat them fair and square,” said Vettel, securing his first GP win since 2013. “It was a fantastic achievement.”
With a margin of under nine seconds, a third stop would have meant the outright pace of the Mercedes would be too much for the four time world champion.
Indeed, the Mercedes were the fastest cars on track, with Nico Rosberg claiming the fastest lap of the race along with third place gapping Raikkonen’s fourth placed Ferrari by more than forty seconds.
The race wasn’t without incident as, unlike in Melbourne, the Sepang circuit saw close quarters racing that became too close at times.
Ericsson spun in the early stages triggering an early safety car that saw Hamilton and Rosberg dive to the pits along with most of the field.
Further incidents included Hulkenburg and Kvyat becoming tangled with each other while Daniel Ricciardo slipping through unscathed.
Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean also came together, spinning Grosjean but keeping both cars in the race.
The contact reflected the intensity of the dogfights that were breaking out across the circuit but was something that was to be avoided late in the race as a number of team mate battles appeared in the late stages.
Williams team mates Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas fought over fifth place, while the Toro Rossos of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz scrapped over seventh.
Max Verstappen eventually won the battle and in doing so became the youngest driver of all-time to claim a Formula One championship point, of which he earned six.
Both Red Bulls finished a lap down with Kvyat taking ninth from Ricciardo who struggled for pace all weekend.
It was more of the same for McLaren with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button both failing to finish as their cars failed beneath them.
Despite this they were able to provide some more resistance than in Melbourne, proving that although it is still slow going, the new McLaren Honda partnership is definitely progressing.
Manor Marussia managed to put one of their cars on the grid for the first time this year with Roberto Merhi eventually finishing fifteenth, three laps behind the leaders.
In the end, Vettel won by a comfortable margin and Raikkonen’s pace in the middle of the race showed that Ferrari are true contenders in the 2015 championship.
Red Bull Racing continues to scrape points together rather than claiming them confidently and risk being outperformed by their younger cousin Toro Rosso if things don’t change soon.
Both Sainz and Verstappen have shown great pace and will be battling for rookie of the year honours as the year progresses.
Lotus will be hoping their luck turns around in Shanghai after a couple of disappointing yet unfortunate performances in Australia and Malaysia.
Once again Mercedes will be the team to beat despite going down to Ferrari in the second round of the season.
The curve ball thrown by the early safety wasn’t handled well by the reigning champions, however it would be naive to think it will play on their minds as they look to return to their winning ways in a fortnight’s time in Shanghai.
Image courtesy of F1 Fanatic